Public buildings
The Tyne Bridge

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Institute of Historical Research

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Author

Eneas Mackenzie

Year published

1827

Pages

204-215

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'Public buildings: The Tyne Bridge', Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 204-215. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=43345 Date accessed: 02 September 2014.


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PUBLIC BUILDINGS.

The public buildings belonging to the ancient fortifications and religious institutions of the town have been before described. The other buildings which require a particular description belong to more modern times and establishments.

TYNE BRIDGE.

Amongst the public buildings in Newcastle, the Tyne Bridge, from its pre-eminent utility, claims precedence. Bourne observes that "the bridge is of great antiquity, undoubtedly as old as the time of the Romans;" and Brand says, "The proofs that a Roman bridge occupied either the same, or nearly the same scite with the present bridge at Newcastle, appear stronger than those generally are which are brought in confirmation of truths of such remote antiquity." Both Dr. Hunter and Mr. Horsley were of opinion, that there has been a Roman military way from Chester-le-Street to Newcastle; and Dr. Stukeley calls it the true Herman Street, which came down Gateshead Fell, and passed "in a straight line to the bridge." But one of the strongest proofs of the antiquity of this structure is derived from the ancient map of Richard of Cirencester, upon which the Roman great road divides into two branches at Binchester, in the eounty of Durham, one of which stretches towards Scotland by Corbridge, and the other terminates at the Roman Wall at Newcastle upon Tyne. (fn. 1)

Tyne Bridge is supposed to have been built by the Emperor Ælius Hadrian, A. D. 120, from which circumstance the Roman station by which it was protected was called "Pons Ælii." Many Roman coins were discovered in the ruins of the piers of this bridge, after its fall in 1771. Brand has given the engraving of one of the Emperor Hadrian, found here, and communicated by John Erasmus Blackett, Esq. He also mentions one of Trajan, and one of Antoninus, of the larger size, which were discovered amongst the ruins. Pennant likewise describes the following coins that were found here:—"Coins, posterior to the time of Adrian, probably de posited there in some later repairs. One is a beautiful Faustina the Elder, after her deification—her forehead is bound with a small tiara—her hair full, twisted, and dressed a la moderne—round is inscribed, 'Diva Faustina.' On the reverse is a Ceres, with a torch in one hand, and ears of corn in the other: the inscription, 'Augusta S. C.' The next has the laureated head of Antoninus Pius—on the reverse, Apollo, with a patera in one hand, a plectrum in the other—the legend defaced. The third is of Lucius Verus, after consecration—reverse, a magnificent funeral pile, and the word 'Consecratio, S. C.'—The originals of these are in the possession of the bishop of Durham." (fn. 2) This writer observes, that the old piers of Tyne Bridge "seem originally to have been formed without springs to the arches. This was a manner used by the Romans; witness the bridge built over the Danube by Trajan at Severin." This mode of building was well calculated for expedition: after projections of stone had been made over the piers, as far as was consistent with strength, the remaining space was traversed with beams of timber and paved upon. In one of these piers a piece of parchment was found, with old characters upon it, very fresh; but, on being exposed to the air, they disappeared, and the parchment mouldered away.

That a bridge existed here in the time of Henry II. is inferred in his exempting, by charter, the burgesses of Newcastle from the duty of pontage for their own goods, Matthew Paris relates that, in 1248, the greatest part of the town of Newcastle, including the bridge, which was formed of timber, was destroyed by fire.

After this, according to Bourne, the town of Newcastle joined with the bishop of Durham (who was bound to repair a third part of Tyne Bridge) to erect a bridge of stone; and the business was effected by giving indulgences, either for money or labour. This useful work was, in like manner, forwarded by the official of Carlisle. In 1251, Simon de Shotton, Robert de Seaton, and Henry Gategang, parson of Emeldon, occur as benefactors to this bridge; to the support of which, Robert Valesine, in 1255, gave an annual rent. On the 14th of the Kalends of October, 1256, Walter bishop of Durham granted an indulgence of twenty days to any person that would contribute to the reparation of Tyne Bridge; and on the Ides of September, 1257, Sewald, archbishop of York, granted thirty days' indulgence to any person assisting towards building and repairing the Tyne Bridge. About the same time, Andrew, bishop of Caithness in Scotland, collected alms throughout his diocese for the same purpose; and the bishop of Waterford in Ireland offered valuable spiritual considerations to the benefactors of this national work. (fn. 3)

In 1269, an anonymous benefaction towards the reparation of Tyne Bridge occurs; when one Laurence was keeper. (fn. 4) In 1277, Walter bishop of Rochester granted indulgences to those that assisted in restoring this bridge; and, in 1292, the following persons are mentioned, as benefactors to the work:—Peter le Graper; Adam, son of Henry de Carliol, burgess of Newcastle; Nicholas, son of Adam de Carliol, burgess of Newcastle; Henry Lewyn; Johannes Aurifaber; Robert de Valenceres, and Emma his wife; Henricus Gervasius; John de Burneton; John Brune; Johannes Page; Richard de Cromclif; and Roger Amyas. In 1315, William de Salisbury, and, in 1323, Ralph Brydock of Gateside, occur as benefactors. (fn. 5)

Part of Tyne Bridge, in 1339, was carried away by a sudden inundation; and one hundred and twenty persons were drowned on the occasion. Three years after this disaster, the bridge is mentioned as being in a ruinous and falling condition, and not having its rents duly paid. The master, assisted by some of the magistrates of Newcastle, was therefore ordered to levy the arrears to be applied to its reparation.

By an inquisition taken in 1370, this bridge was reported to be in so ruinous a condition, as to require above £1000 to repair it. There was found, at the same time, a revenue of ten marks belonging to it, with one of the like value to St. Thomas' chapel. In 1394, there was a temporary grant of customs for the reparation of Tyne Bridge; and a licence was granted to John Cochet, to alienate two parts of five messuages for the same purpose.

Thomas Langley, bishop of Durham, on the 28th of January, 1416, recovered, from the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle upon Tyne, the third part of this bridge, adjoining to Gateshead, in the county of Durham, with a tower which that body had erected thereupon. (fn. 6)

In 1429, Roger Thornton bequeathed an hundred marks for the reparation of Tyne Bridge, on the following singular condition:—"If so that the mayor and commons will release me all actions, as I that never hindred them, nor nought awe them at my writing, but this I desire for eschewing of clamour." In the ordinary of the Fullers and Dyers, dated 1477, half of the fines are ordered to go to the reparation of this bridge. The Weavers' Company were also under a similar regulation; and the order is found in an ordinary granted to Slaters and Bricklayers' Company in 1579. Previous to this time, a waste messuage in the Close was held by grant from Henry Earl of Northumberland, on paying to the work on Tyne Bridge an annual rent of 26s. 8d. A tenement in the Side was likewise held on paying 16s. annually for the same purpose. In 1527, the corporation received from Leonard Musgrave, Esq. collector of the customs of Newcastle, an annuity of £20, granted by the king towards the support of the walls and bridge of the town.

Thomas Ruthal, appointed bishop of Durham in 1509, repaired a third part of Tyne Bridge. The same work was continued by Thomas Wolsey, who occupied the episcopal throne from the year 1523 to 1530. His successor, Thomas Tunstal, re paired, at two separate times, with stone and wood work, the part of the bridge belonging to the see of Durham. (fn. 7) In 1582, a decree in the exchequer set forth that the bishop of Durham, and not the inhabitants of the county palatine of Durham, should repair the third part of this bridge.

In the years 1646 and 1647, mention occurs in the common council books of the reparation of Tyne Bridge; and in 1649, this body directed that application should be made to parliament for forty trees out of Chopwell Woods, there marked for the king's use, to be employed in repairing this bridge.

By authority of the ordinance for abolishing episcopacy, two different sales, one in the year 1647, and the other in 1651, were made of the late bishop of Durham's property on this bridge. (fn. 8)

In 1651, a statue of king James I. with the arms of the late king Charles, having been taken down from the Magazine-gate on this bridge, by an order of the parliament, the common council of Newcastle directed, that the arms of the commonwealth should be put up in their stead. (fn. 9)

Immediately after the restoration of king Charles II. the arms of the commonwealth before-mentioned were taken down from the said gate, and their place supplied by the royal arms, and a statue of the late restored king, in a Roman habit, with this motto:—"Adventus Regis solamen gregis," i.e. The coming of the king is the comfort of the people.

£. s. d.
"1647, Feby. 2d, Houses; shops and waste ground, on Tyne Bridge, sold to Francis Alder, for 59 2 6
1651, March 12th, Several parcels of land on Tyne Bridge, sold to Francis Alder, for 52 5 8"

This gate was repaired in 1713, "Henry Reay, Esq. mayor; Joseph Green, Esq. sheriff." It was taken down in 1770, in order to widen the north entrance to the bridge. During the same year, Richard Trevor, bishop of Durham, repaired with stone that part of the Tyne Bridge where there had anciently been a draw-bridge. This arch had been made of large beams of timber, overlaid with thick planks, upon which a pavement had been made. Every thing being prepared before-hand, the work was commenced on a Sunday morning in July, and finished on the Thursday following. (fn. 10)

About eleven o'clock on the night of Saturday, November 16, 1771, the river Tyne began to rise, in consequence of heavy rains in the west; and about three o'clock the following morning, the arches of this bridge were filled up. In about an hour afterwards, a north arch adjoining to the toll-house, and two others on the south end, with seven houses standing thereon, were carried away. Other houses and shops fell the next day, and the whole structure exhibited a terrific scene of ruin and desolation. (fn. 11)

On November 20, this year, the magistrates of Newcastle published an order to prevent the passage of keels, boats, &c. through any of the arches except the four that remained on the north side of the bridge. (fn. 12)

January 20, 1772, the common council of Newcastle ordered a petition to be presented to the House of Commons, for leave to bring in a bill for building a temporary bridge, and also a bridge of stone, over the Tyne; as also for monies to be granted them to defray the expenses necessary for such a work. A second petition from the same body, and on the same subject, occurs on Tuesday, February 25, 1772. The latter petition was presented to the House of Commons on the Friday following. In the same year (12 Geo. III.), an act of parliament passed, "for building a temporary bridge over the river Tyne, between the town of Newcastle upon Tyne, and Gateshead, in the county of Durham." The corporation of Newcastle had agreed to expend £2400 out of its revenues on the occasion; and if the work cost more, the overplus was to be reimbursed by a toll. It was limited, in the act, to stand seven years from June 24, 1772, or to such sooner time as a new stone bridge should be built, or the old stone bridge effectually repaired. By the said act, the mayor, aldermen, and common council of Newcastle, were authorized "to purchase certain houses, buildings, and ground, adjoining on each side of the river Tyne, and also on the north side of a street called Pipewellgate, near to or adjoining the scite of the old stone bridge, in the parish of Gateshead, and also one or more houses or shops now remaining upon part of the late stone bridge, and to pull down such houses and shops respectively."—"That the ground to be purchased, in pursuance of this act, on the north side of the said street called Pipewellgate, in the parish of Gateshead, for the making a way or passage to and from the said temporary bridge, on the south side of the said river Tyne, or so much and such part and parts of such ground as shall be necessary for the purpose of making a commodious, free, and open passage to a new stone bridge, when the same bridge shall be built, shall, for ever after the building of such new stone bridge, remain, continue, and be for the use of the public, for the purpose aforesaid." The accounts were ordered to be lodged in the office of the town-clerk in Newcastle upon Tyne; and the justices of the peace and commissioners of the land-tax, for the counties of Northumberland and Durham, and the town and county of Newcastle upon Tyne, were appointed auditors thereof. The same persons had, in some degree, the fixing of the tolls to be collected, the maximum and minimum of such tolls only being fixed by the act of parliament.

In 1772, an act passed, "to enable the Lord Bishop of Durham, and his successors, to raise a competent sum of money, to be applied for the repairing, improving, or rebuilding such part of Tyne Bridge as belongs to the see of Durham." This was done by raising £12,000, secured by granting annuities upon lives, at a rate not exceeding ten per cent. The trustees for putting this act into execution were, "the chancellor of the bishopric and county palatine of Durham, and Sadberge, the sheriff of the county palatine of Durham, and Sadberge, the vicar-general and principal official of the dioceses of Durham," and several other officers in the said county, who are appointed by the bishop.

The late Mr. David Stephenson, architect, contracted, on June 10, 1772, to build a temporary bridge over the Tyne at Newcastle in four months, under a great penalty. On the 16th of July, the workmen began to drive the piles; and on the 27th of the following October, it was opened to the public. On this occasion, the workmen made a procession through the town, preceded by music and flags. (fn. 13)

On October 14, 1774, the foundation stone of the bishop of Durham's part of the Tyne Bridge was laid; and the work was conducted by Mr. Mylne, architect. On the 8th of July, the following year, his first arch was closed in, on which occasion there were great rejoicings in Gateshead. The stones were won from a quarry in a field behind Oakwellgate, where the stones were procured to build the steeple of Gateshead church. Workmen had been employed early in January, 1772, to clear away the ruins of the bridge; but the stones were so strongly cemented as not to be separated without a mall and hammer.

The first stone of the corporation part of Tyne Bridge was laid by Sir Matthew White Ridley, Bart. on April 25, 1775, amidst a vast concourse of spectators. On the 8th of July, in the following year, a copper medal was inclosed in a thick glass case, and deposited in the south-east corner of the first new pier, which formed the south boundary of the corporation's part of the bridge. Over the device upon this medal, which exhibited the Newcastle Exchange, with the Genius of Commerce sitting by it, supporting the arms of the corporation, and presenting a purse to a figure in the robes of magistracy, directing his attention to a prospect of some rising piers of a bridge, with shipping and lighters on the river, is the following motto:—"Quod felix faustumque sit;" and on the reverse, this inscription :—"This stone, being the boundary of the corporation of Newcastle, southward, was laid Anno Domini 1776, in the mayoralty of Charles Atkinson, Esq. William Cramlington, Esq. sheriff." The sixth and last part of the corporation part of the bridge was closed on September 13, 1779. The stones used in building this part of the bridge were taken from two different quarries; the one situated at Elswick, and the other near St. Anthony's. Mr. John Wooler was the engineer employed by the corporation.

Mr. Hodgson states the expense of this bridge at "upwards of £30,000."—(Beauties of England and Wales, art. Northumberland.) But by the following estimate, it must have cost about double that sum:—

£. s. d.
By an act passed in 1772, the bishop of Durham was empowered to raise, by granting annuities, to build his part of Tyne Bridge, 12,000 0 0
By an act passed in 1779, for enlarging the time of another act passed in 1772, it is stated that the corporation of Newcastle have, up to December 28, 1778, ex pended" of their own proper money," including £1838, 9s. 8d. the price of the buildings on their part of the old bridge, (fn. 14) 21,042 16 11
In the last-mentioned act, it is stated that, "upon a moderate computation, the said corporation must expend, in completing that part of the said bridge which be longs to them, the further sum of 10,000 0 0
Suppose the expense of widening the bridge, from 21 feet 6 inches to 33 feet 6 inches, to have cost, 16,957 3 1
£60,000 0 0

The temporary bridge cost £4178, of which sum the corporation of Newcastle gave £2400. See act of parliament passed in 1779.

In the year 1779 (19 Geo. III.), an act passed for enlarging the term of an act passed in the 12th year of his majesty king Geo. III.; for building a temporary bridge over the river Tyne, between Newcastle and Gateshead; for completing the new stone bridge over the said river; and for making the avenues to, and the passage over the same, more commodious. By this act, the trustees were empowered to continue the temporary bridge until the 24th June, 1782, or to such sooner time as a new stone bridge should be built; and to continue the tolls for the building of the said new stone bridge until the 24th June, 1791, or to such sooner time as the several purposes of the act should be carried into execution. (fn. 15)

In the year 1788 (28 Geo. III.), an act passed for enlarging the times and powers of two acts of the 12th and 19th years of his majesty king Geo. III.; for building a temporary bridge, and completing a new stone bridge, over the river Tyne, between Newcastle and Gateshead; making the avenues to, and the passages over the same, more commodious; and for removing and preventing nuisances and annoyances in the streets, lanes, and avenues leading to the said new stone bridge, within the town of Gateshead, in the county of Durham. By this act, the term of twelve years, granted by the act of the 19th Geo. III. was enlarged and continued for the further term of twelve years, to be reckoned and computed from the expiration of the said twelve years. The time was thus extended to the 24th June, 1803.

In the year 1801 (41 Geo. III.), an act passed for continuing and amending an act made in the 28th Geo. III. and for enabling the trustees named in the said act to widen and enlarge the said new stone bridge. By this act, the trustees were enabled to widen and enlarge the bridge, by building on, and projecting from the salient angles of the said bridge, stone arches of such dimensions as to give to such bridge the additional width of twelve feet at the least; and to make and erect a parapet thereon, of such dimensions, form, and materials, as they should think proper. The bridge has, accordingly, been increased in width from 21 feet 6 inches to 33 feet 6 inches. By this act, the term of the former act (28 Geo. III.) was enlarged and continued until the end of the first session of parliament which should commence after the 24th day of June, 1822, or to such sooner time as the several purposes of the act should be effected. The trustees were empowered by the said act to raise the sum of £1000, which should, when so raised, be laid out or invested in the purchase of stock in some of the public stocks or funds, or upon other government securities, at interest, in the names of the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle, and of the bishop of Durham for the time being; who shall, from time to time, lay out or invest in their names, in like manner, the yearly dividends or interest of the stocks, funds, and securities so to be purchased, as the same shall from time to time be received, after paying the costs of such investments, for the purpose of accumulation; and which accumulation shall be and remain a fund for the further maintenance, support, and repair of the said additional stone arches and the parapet thereof, so that the mayor and burgesses, or the bishop of Durham, may be wholly exonerated and kept free from any expense or charge in respect of the said additional stone arches, or the parapet thereof. The said mayor and burgesses, and bishop of Durham, are required, by and out of the said accumulated fund, but so as never to reduce the sum below £1000, to cause the said additional stone arches, and the parapet thereof, to be for ever supported, maintained, and kept in repair; in so far as such accumulated fund will enable them to do so, but no further. This provision was founded on the fact of the corporation and the see of Durham being bound by prescription to maintain, in the proportion of two-thirds and one-third, the bridge as it then existed; and on the justice of preventing the enlargement of the bridge, for the convenience of the public, adding to the burthen sustained by those corporations.

The several purposes of the act were effected in 1818; (fn. 16) and in the autumn of that year, £1000, the sum stipulated to be raised for the maintenance of the added parts of the bridge, was vested in purchase of 3 per cent. consols; the amount of stock purchased being £1320, 2s. 7d. The width of the bridge was increased by an ingenious contrivance of the late David Stephenson, Esq. architect. He constructed the additional width to the arches on each side, upon the buttresses of the piers. This useful work was commenced on the 30th of June, 1801, and was prosecuted with great diligence. It was afterwards found that the jointing of the parts was defective, on which the pavement was raised, the earth removed, and the old and new masonwork cramped together by large bars of iron, that reached from one side to the other. These strong means of security were laid down under the direction of Mr. John Stokoe, of Newcastle, and Mr. Hall, of Stamfordham. Before the passage upon the bridge was widened, there was an angular recess at each pier, and the whole had a rich and picturesque effect. The building is now certainly improved in utility, and has acquired a strong, sober aspect of stability. Judges admit that the architect has effected the improvement with uncommon skill and effect. There are, however, balustrades above every arch, which passengers, especially in the winter season, feel to be a very inconvenient and injudicious kind of ornament, being usually attacked at every opening by a disagreeably violent gust of wind. These openings were, no doubt, made to give an air of greater lightness to the structure, which has rather a heavy appearance. It now consists of nine arches, and is in length, from north to south, 300 feet.

The other bridges within the town were, Nether Dean Bridge, pulled down in 1788; Upper Dean Bridge, now covered with buildings; and the Stock Bridge, in Pandon, which is also hid on both sides by buildings. The Glass-house Bridge, in the eastern suburbs of the town, and the Ouseburn Bridge, were noticed before. There is another ancient, narrow, and inconvenient bridge, over the Ouseburn, a little above Mr. Beckington's steam flour-mill, and upon the old road leading from Newcastle to Heaton: it is within the boundary of the county of Northumberland. The late improvement of Barras Bridge was described in the proper place.

Pandon New Bridge was built in 1812, by the contractor, Mr. John Reed, mason. It is a strong, handsome structure, consisting of three arches, and is 30 feet in breadth. The space between the spring of the arches, being filled up with clay and rubbish, swelled out after rain, and threatened destruction to the whole building. It therefore became necessary to remove the rubbish, and to build stone walls across the bridge above each pier. The small compartments thus formed were then filled up, and the pavement replaced. This alteration was made at the charge of the builder. (fn. 17)

Footnotes

1 Britannia Romana, p. 104. Bourne, p. 137.
2 See page 2 of this volume. Pennant's Northern Tour, vol. iii. p. 313. Brand, vol. ii. p. 385.
3 "John," says Bourne, "the son of Decanus, and Bartholomew, the son of William, son of Benedict, guardian of the alms collected for the support of the Tyne Bridge, with the council and assent of the mayor, bailiffs, and burgesses, confirmed by Gervasius, the son of Ralph, the whole land, with every thing belonging to it, in the fields of Jesumuthia, which Henry de Bulmar and Ralph gave, and by their charters confirmed to the said Tine Bridge, &c. on condition that he rendered to the said Tyne Bridge one plank, or six shillings, annually, at the feast of St. Michael: Adam de Jesemuthia was the first witness to this grant.
"Adam de Jesumuthia granted to God, and to the Tyne Bridge, on account of the soul of William de Greenville, and the souls of his ancestors, part of the ground in the land of Jesumuth.
"Some of the witnesses to this charter were, Gilbert de Valle, Adam de Plessy, Gilbert de Oggell, William de Byker, Elge de Gosford. Richard de Northefold, and Hugh of London, gave nine shillings and six pence out of certain lands lying in the Vico Fori, to the repairing of the bridge. One Stephen, of Benwell, is mentioned in this grant, as having land adjoining to that out of which this money is granted. Some of the witnesses to this grant were, Thomas Carliol, then mayor of the town, &c. J. Lindisay, bail. Robert de Mitford, Adam de Blakedon."
4 "For the collection of these alms, and receiving them, there was one constituted the Custos or guardian of the bridge, which was sometimes also the master of St. Thomas the Martyr, as may be observed in the account of those charities."—Bourne, p. 130.
5 "I know not," says Brand, "the date of the subsequent benefaction recorded by Bourne:—'Laurentiusde Moreton, and Alice his wife, granted a messuage in Pampeden, to John de Brinklawe, of Newcastle, and his wife, on condition that they payed to the guardian, or master of the bridge, four shillings, at the terms agreed upon, and gave to them and their heirs one rose, at the Feast of the Nativity of St. John Baptist.'— P. 130 from the Liber Cart' p. 55."
6 By an inquest taken at Durham, Monday before the Feast of St. Margaret, 1336, the true men of the bishop's borough of Gateshead set forth, "that the town of Newcastle have built on Tyne Bridge to its very southern extremity, robbing the bishop of his free soil and inheritance. And, worst and most grievous of all, when William de Ullesam fell from the bridge into the water of Tyne, and there drowned, immediately came one Richard Mekilmak, with Thomas Parry, found the dead body within the water-mark of the bishopric, and dragged the corpse to Newcastle before they returned it for Christian burial to the church-yard of Blessed St. Mary of Gateshead. And hereupon the king, on petition of the bishop of Durham, directed his writ to the mayor and bailiffs of Newcastle, reciting the bishop's rights, and ordering them for the future to ferbear from the outrageous practices in which they had indulged." A variety of inquisitions and processes followed, until Cardinal Langley, one of the wisest and most powerful prelates that ever filled the palatine throne, took possession of the tower of offence on the 3d of August, 1414, with all his chivalry.—Suriees' Hist. Durham, vol. ii. p. 110.
In a petition, presented by Thomas, bishop of Durham, to the king in parliament, in Easter-term, A. D. 1412, it was set forth, that he, and all his predecessors, bishops of Durham, from time immemorial, had held the county and liberty of Durham, between the waters of Tees and Tyne, together with moieties of these waters, and the soil of the said moieties of the waters, as parcel of the county and liberty, of which they had been seized all that time, with the franchises, jurisdictions, and royalties in them, as the right of their church of St. Cuthbert, of Durham, peaceably and intirely. As also a moiety of Tyne Bridge, on their soil, till the 1st of May, 1383, when William Bishopdale, mayor of Newcastle, and the commonalty of that town, began to build a tower on the bishop's part of the bridge at Gateshead, and removed, and carried into Newcastle, two stones, called St. Cuthbert's Stones, the ancient boundaries of the liberty aforesaid, and which tower they occupied at that time. The mayor and burgesses of Newcastle, in vindication of their proceedings, pretended they had authority for so doing, in a charter, dated February 5, in the 15th year of king John.—The corporation of Newcastle, it is needless to add, were cast in this trial, compelled to take back and replace St. Cuthbert's Stones, and give up the tower they had built, together with their claim to the bishop's right to a third part of the bridge, of which seizin was made for the said bishop as above, January 28, 1416.—(From a record in the archives of the corporation of Newcastle upon Tyne, quoted by Brand: see also Wharton's Anglia Sacra, p. 776.)
The Aubone MS. says, "In the 2d of Henry V. the bishop of Durham had judgment against the mayor and burgesses of Newcastle, for removing his stones, and incroaching upon his liberties, upon the third part of Tyne Bridge. It appears, in the little black book in the hutch, under 4 Hen. V. that the execution of the said judgement, of the 2d Hen. V. was opposed when Sir Christopher Moresby, sheriff of Westmoreland, Sir William Claxton, sheriff of Durham, and others, came to take seizin of the said one-third part of the bridge for the bishop of Durham, upon the false verdict (as it is there called) of the jurors of Westmoreland and Cumberland, against the mayor and commonalty of Newcastle."
"The blue stone," on this bridge, occurs in the common council books, March 22, 1648. Bourne, speaking of this "blue stone," says, "here is the boundary of Newcastle southwards."
7 In 1559, as Alderman Anderson was leaning over the bridge, and handling his ring, he dropt it into the the river. Some time after, his servant bought a salmon in the market here, in which the same ring was found. The ring is still in the possession of the Anderson family. It has a fish engraven under the signet, the stone of which Mr. Brand supposed to be an antique. This family have also a deed sealed with it, prior to the date of this occurrence.—See a similar tale in Littlebury's Herodotus, vol. i. p. 272; and in Collier's Dictionary, under Kestigern. Fuller, in his Worthies, notices this event, and refers to Vox Pisces, published in 1627. See also Grey's Chorography, p. 9; Bourne, p. 132; and Brand, vol. i. p. 45.
8 In the particular of lands belonging to the bishop of Durham, sold by virtue of an ordinance for abolishing of archbishops and bishops within the kingdom of England and the dominion of Wales, and for settling their lands and possessions upon trustees, for the use of the commonwealth, to be disposed of as both houses of parliament shall think fit and appoint,—are the following articles:—
9 Common council books.—The following mottoes ordered to be engraven on the same—"the same beinge also englished as followeth:
Principatus ac libertas res dissociabiles,
Anno Domini 1651.
Vera libertas nullius jus imminuit.
Ea demum libertas est que suum cuique tuctur.
That is: princedome and liberty things unsociable.
True liberty takes away noe mans right, or hinders no mans right
That indeed (or at last) is true liberty that defends every man's right or partie."
10 There was a hermitage upon Tyne Bridge in 1429, when the priest who resided there was left a legacy of six marks annually, for which he was ordered to sing for the soul of his benefactor, Roger Thornton. The situation was well chosen, being in view of those who were exposed to perils by water, and of the numerous pious passengers who were obliged to pass the bridge. There is also a chapel on Tyne Bridge mentioned in 1616, called, "Our Lady's Chapell."
Bourne says that "this bridge had once twelve bold arches;" but three were "turned into cellaring at the building of the keys." Some of the arches were Gothic, and others scheme arches; but they had no regular decrease from the middle to the ends, and the passage over them was narrow and crowded with houses. There were three towers upon the bridge. The Magazine Gate was built upon an arch of the bridge, us d for a magazine for the town. It had the date of 1636 upon it, and is mentioned by Grey, who published his Chorographia in 1649, as lately built. "The gate at the bridge ende," spoken of by Leland, is supposed by Brand to "have been a gate in the town-wall, perhaps considerably nearer to St. Thomas' chapel than the late Magazine Gate." The "stronge warde and towre on it," mentioned by Leland, stood near the middle of the bridge. "In this tower," says Bourne, "are kept lewd and disorderly persons till they are examined by the mayor and brought to due punishment, except the crime be of a very gross nature, and are then removed to New-gate, and there continued till the assizes." It seems also to have been used for other purposes; for Harry Wallis, a master shipwright, when committed to the "tower on the bridge," for abusing the puritanical Alderman Barnes, found a quantity of malt lying in the chamber where he was confined, and threw it out of the window with a shovel into the Tyne, singing the following lines:—
"O base mault,
Thou didst the fault,
And into Tyne thou shalt."
That this small tower should have been more than sufficient for the confinement of petty offenders, is a strong presumptive proof of the morality and plenty of those times.
There was anciently, it is thought, a chapel in this tower, as a stone coffin and a skeleton were found on pulling it down after the fall of the bridge in 1771. There was also cut rudely in stone on the north side of this tower, on a shield, a Holy Lamb passant. The chapel mentioned before, and which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, stood on the east side of the pier next on the south to that on which this tower stood. At the south end of the bridge was the third tower, having "a stronge wardyd gate," near to which was a draw-bridge. On the south front of this tower were the arms of Nathaniel Crew, bishop of Durham. This stone was preserved by the late Hugh Hornby, Esq. alderman of Newcastle, and placed in his garden-wall in Pilgrim Street. He also preserved a stone with the town's arms upon it, which was placed on the south side of the tower on the bridge, with the motto, Fortiter defendit triumphans 1646. Alderman Hornby's house and garden are now the property of Anthony Clapham, Esq. who has carefully removed these curious stones, and placed the bishop's arms over his soap-office door, and the town's arms over the porter-office of Brumell and Gilpin. Each of the three gates that anciently defended the bridge was strengthened by a portcullis.
11 See Historical Events, p. 61 et seq.
12 January 13, 1772, the common council appointed two receivers of the taxes that were taken for crossing the river Tyne, in the ferries they had provided for that purpose. Lamps were also ordered to be fixed on each side of the landing places, one of which, as likewise the station of the fare-gatherers, was at Wide Open in Sandgate, and the other on the opposite shore.
13 The rebuilding of Tyne Bridge exercised the ingenuity of several able engineers. In January, 1772, Mr. John Smeaton and Mr. John Wooler published their first report relating to this bridge. In March, a report on the same subject appeared, signed Robert Mylne, architect of Black Friars Bridge, London; accompanied by a plan for a temporary bridge, and Messrs. Rawlings and Wake's abstract of the borings into the bed of the river Tyne. Immediately after, Mr. John Wooler published observations on Mr. Mylne's report, addressed to the mayor, aldermen, and common council of Newcastle. In August, the same year, "The Principles of Bridges, &c." by Charles Hutton, mathematician, was announced in the Newcastle Courant.
There was an intention, but it was over-ruled, of having the new bridge built from the Javil Groop to the opposite shore. The following occurs in the Newcastle Courant for February 1st, 1772:—"At a very respectable meeting of the inhabitants of this town, yesterday, a subscription was entered into, for the support of a petition to parliament against the building of the intended bridge over the Tyne, at the Jabel Groop." The subscription then amounted to upwards of fifty pounds.
14 By the above, the sum of £1838, 9s. 8d. appears to have been paid for the buildings upon the corporation's part of the bridge. The whole of the payments had probably not been made at the time this account was made, as we think the property upon this part of the bridge would be of greater value. The following is, "An account of the loss of shops that were upon Tyne Bridge, in the parish of Gateshead, by the late inundation, held by lease under the Lord Bishop of Durham:—
                              East Side
Proprietorrs' Names.     A Year.  Supposed Value.
                                            £               £
John Wray                         20          200
Thomas Haggerstone,       20          280
Miss Huntley,                     8          112
James Bell,                       13          180
Exrs. of Mr. Thompson,  10          140
Edward Fawcett,                6            80
Edward Waugh                 18          250
James Farguson,               14          200
Edward Fawcett,               16          225
Robert Akenhead,             13          180
George Weatherly,             6            84
                                         £144     £1931

                              West Side
Proprietorrs' Names.     A Year.  Supposed Value.
                                            £               £
Mrs. Liddell,                      14          196
George Carr,                      14          196
John Parkin,                       14          192
Richard Armstrong,              7           98
Mary Haswell,                    15          230
Robert Akenhead,               13          180
Matthew Reed,                   13          180
John Bell,                           10          140
John Clarke,                       22          300
Dr. Oliphant,                      20          250
Total West Side,              142         1962
Ditto East Side,              144         1931
Total both Sides,             286         3893
15 The common council ordered, on March 22, 1779, one thousand pounds to be expended in purchasing the property that was on the west side of the north avenue to Tyne Bridge, provided the above act could be obtained. On the 13th November, 1786, workmen began to pull down the houses that were thus purchased for widening this avenue.
On the last day of April, 1781, the workmen began to take down the temporary bridge.
16 For further particulars on this subject see Tolls of the Town.
17 "Died, on Thursday last, Mr. J. Reed, of this town, mason, aged 71. He was foreman to Mr. Hutchinson, one of the contractors for building Tyne Bridge; and, after the decease of his master, he finished that great work for the benefit of his orphan children, in a way to give universal satisfaction to his employers. Many other monuments of his skill and industry will be found in various quays which border the banks of the Tyne. The last great work, the stupendous bridge over Pandon Dean, has been much admired, and was carried on and finished by him under difficulties, which would have appalled any other man, and which, it may fairly be presumed, tended to shorten his useful life. His unshaken integrity will long be remembered by his friends, and those persons who were fortunate in having the benefit of his useful labours.—Newcastle Courant, Dec. 20, 1817.
Besides the quays mentioned here, Mr. Reed built the dry dock at St. Peter's. Indeed, he was the only regular-bred master-mason in Newcastle in his time. The difficulties alluded to did not arise so much from the mechanical niceties to be observed in erecting this lofty, airy, and strong edifice, as from the pecuniary disappointments he experienced, in consequence of the trustees being unable to pay for the work. A great part of the expense of the building still remains due; but the interest is regularly paid.